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Life Inc.

How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back

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eBook published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Now includes “The Life Inc. Guide to Reclaiming the Value You Create”

In Life Inc, award-winning writer Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. The resulting ideology, corporatism, has infiltrated all aspects of civics, commerce, and culture—from the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self, from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking, from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of Facebook. Life Inc explains why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business. Most important, Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.
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Now includes “The Life Inc. Guide to Reclaiming the Value You Create”

In Life Inc, award-winning writer Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. The resulting ideology, corporatism, has infiltrated all aspects of civics, commerce, and culture—from the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self, from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking, from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of Facebook. Life Inc explains why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business. Most important, Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.
Product Details
eBook
Published: June 2, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9781588368492
Other books byDouglas Rushkoff
  • Exit Strategy

    Exit Strategy
    The Original Version
    Douglas Rushkoff's latest salvo on complacent media culture, set in 2008, features Jamie Cohen, a young hacker who, like the biblical Joseph, suffers betrayal and then penance (via the talk-show circuit) before joining forces with a venture capitalist determined to turn everyone into mindless consumers. Meanwhile, Jamie's former pals have developed a way to kill the Web's - and the stock market's - profit-making capacities. A dazzling satire of 1990s dot-com mania, this McLuhanesque cultural critique establishes a new publishing precedent: it is the first "open-source" ebook, annotated by online readers. This first print edition includes the best of their footnotes chosen by the author.

    Nothing Sacred

    Nothing Sacred
    The Truth About Judaism
    Acclaimed writer and thinker Douglas Rushkoff, author of Ecstasy Club and Coercion, has written perhaps the most important—and controversial—book on Judaism in a generation. As the religion stands on the brink of becoming irrelevant to the very people who look to it for answers, Nothing Sacred takes aim at its problems and offers startling and clearheaded solutions based on Judaism’s core values and teachings. Disaffected by their synagogues’ emphasis on self-preservation and obsession with intermarriage, most Jews looking for an intelligent inquiry into the nature of spirituality have turned elsewhere, or nowhere. Meanwhile, faced with the chaos of modern life, returnees run back to Judaism with a blind and desperate faith and are quickly absorbed by outreach organizations that—in return for money—offer compelling evidence that God exists, that the Jews are, indeed, the Lord’s “chosen people,” and that those who adhere to this righteous path will never have to ask themselves another difficult question again. Ironically, the texts and practices making up Judaism were designed to avoid just such a scenario. Jewish tradition stresses transparency, open-ended inquiry, assimilation of the foreign, and a commitment to conscious living. Judaism invites inquiry and change. It is an “open source” tradition—one born out of revolution, committed to evolution, and willing to undergo renaissance at a moment’s notice. But, unfortunately, some of the very institutions created to protect the religion and its people are now suffocating them. If the Jewish tradition is actually one of participation in the greater culture, a willingness to wrestle with sacred beliefs, and a refusal to submit blindly to icons that just don’t make sense to us, then the “lapsed” Jews may truly be our most promising members. Why won’t they engage with the synagogue, and how can they be made to feel more welcome? Nothing Sacred is a bold and brilliant book, attempting to do nothing less than tear down our often false preconceptions about Judaism and build in their place a religion made relevant for the future. From the Hardcover edition.

    Program or Be Programmed

    Program or Be Programmed
    Ten Commands for a Digital Age
    The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: It’s here; it’s everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? “Choose the former,” writes Rushkoff, “and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make.” In ten chapters, composed of ten “commands” accompanied by original illustrations from comic artist Leland Purvis, Rushkoff provides cyber enthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe. In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age––and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries. This is a friendly little book with a big and actionable message.

    Present Shock

    Present Shock
    When Everything Happens Now
    “If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first can be defined by presentism.”   This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, explains award-winning media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, but we don’t seem to have any time in which to live it. Instead we remain poised and frozen, overwhelmed by an always-on, live-streamed re­ality that our human bodies and minds can never truly in­habit. And our failure to do so has had wide-ranging effects on every aspect of our lives.   People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and con­nect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instanta­neous network where time and space could be compressed.   Well, the future’s arrived. We live in a continuous now en­abled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technologi­cal shift. Yet this “now” is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.   Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eter­nal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fic­tion signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.   As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.   Absorbing and thought-provoking, Present Shock is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.

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